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Dec 3, 2010

Missing the point on WikiLeaks

The WikiLeaks cables -- far more significant than anyone has acknowledged -- will change governments. But both the mainstream media and the federal government appear to be completely oblivious to the fact.


Anyone else got the feeling the local mainstream media coverage of the WikiLeaks cables has been a little, well, underdone?

Julian Assange’s mum has got about as much coverage as there’s been hard analysis of the significance of some of the revelations for Australian foreign policy — particularly those pertinent to our region, and most especially in regard to China and Korea, where we’ll be putting troops in harm’s way if things turn uglier.

Much of the local coverage has been of the judgemental variety: either that WikiLeaks has perpetrated some profoundly evil act — although so far not even the most froth-mouthed News Limited commentators have gone the way of their American idols and demanded the extra-judicial killing of Assange — or the whole thing’s rather ‘meh’ — admittedly a difficult reaction to avoid when confronted with the shock revelation that it’s not just most of the democratic world that regards Russia as a corrupt kleptocracy, the State Department does too. Well spotted, Foggy Bottom.

Maybe they finally got round to reading the new le Carré.

It’s also true that our mastheads lack the analytical firepower to properly consider the foreign policy implications of the revelations — certainly not in the manner of The New York Times which, in spite of criticisms that it has allowed the US government to vet its copy, has provided serious contextual analysis and value-adding to the material, better than The Guardian, which has been rather more interested in international personalities instead of the more complex diplomatic significance of what we’re learning.

There’ll doubtless be more local analysis when material more pertinent to Australia is released (our media being in permanent thrall to any international attention directed to Australia), but in the interim what little we’re being offered appears a colossal exercise in missing the point.

This rolling series of releases — and WikiLeaks has barely begun to release the amount of material it has — is raising fundamental issues not merely about statecraft and diplomacy but information, power and the role of the media. Guy Rundle spotted this immediately, and while I would say that, wouldn’t I, his analysis has been the best you’ll see in an Australian publication. This is about far more than a simple matter of leaking sensitive cables, or newspaper coverage of those leaks.

Instead we’re given an uncomprehending coverage by the Australian media, as if it simply can’t process what’s happening, and needs to keep trying different narratives to see if they fit what’s being observed, sticking with whatever seems to temporarily do the trick. Given personalities are always easier to discuss than even the simplest policy issues, most of this has focussed on what ambassadors said about political leaders, and Assange himself — Assange as Bond-style supervillain; Assange as alleged rapist-wanted man; Assange as net libertarian (“information yearns to be free!”). None of that comes remotely near explaining what Assange is trying to do, which — regardless of how you feel about it — you have to go beyond the mainstream media to start to understand.

It’s not entirely fair to blame the media, though, because the Australian government is doing exactly the same thing. The response of the federal government has been… I was going to say “instructive”, but it’s more accurately, and sadly, affirmative of what you suspected, that politicians and bureaucrats can’t see this through any other than a rather 20th century, Cold War-style lens.

Accordingly, the whole business is being treated like an espionage case: Robert McClelland has made vague threats about arresting Assange and providing “every assistance” to the United States on “law enforcement action” and a “taskforce” has been assembled to consider the implications of the material being released. More seriously, McClelland has spoken of criminal offences in relation to publishing WikiLeaks-related material and said that the media may be asked to refrain from publishing certain material on national security grounds.

It barely needs to be said that McClelland’s suggestion that media outlets might either be asked to not publish material, or might find themselves charged if they do, appears to entirely miss that this is no longer 1985 and media executives are no longer the information gatekeepers they once were, even if they were inclined to cooperate.

The Cold War analog doesn’t work because, even if they weren’t moral equivalents, the two Cold War players were mirrors in their goals and apparati and had a dense, mutually-agreed set of rules to play by. WikiLeaks, however, is actively subverting any rules, far more asymmetric and nebulous even than the Islamofascist terrorism threat used so successfully to maintain the national security state in the absence of our Cold War enemies.

Dorothy, we’re not in West Berlin anymore.

The prime minister has gone further than McClelland, declaring the release of cables by WikiLeaks “illegal”, the sort of issue that, thankfully, courts still decide rather than politicians, and which in any event is hardly as clear as Julia Gillard seems to suggest, given she didn’t even say where exactly WikiLeaks’ publication would be considered illegal.

More to the point, she appears to have forgotten that Assange is an Australian citizen, and as such is entitled to a basic level of concern for his treatment from the government of his country — a level of concern that is entirely absent from the remarks of either the Attorney-General or the prime minister. We’ve been down this road before with David Hicks, and that didn’t end well for the government concerned. And Assange is no David Hicks (although, some evidently regard him as far more dangerous).

I’ll finish on a complete digression: when the music industry first switched from vinyl to CD, one particularly prescient musician — can’t recall the name, too vague to Google — suggested that once songs were reduced to a series of 0s and 1s, they were implicitly devalued, and that eventually the music industry would come to rue undermining its basic product in this way.

It took another decade and filesharing software to do it, but he or she was exactly right. The digitisation of information implicitly devalues it, makes it vastly, world-changingly easier to share. And that process doesn’t just change relationships within existing systems, it changes the systems themselves, fundamentally. Relatively trivial industries like entertainment have spent a decade discovering that horrible fact.

You can’t help but wonder how long it will take governments to work out that they are now in exactly the same situation as the music and movie execs who’ve spent so long trying to prop up by force the old system even as it collapses around them.


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90 thoughts on “Missing the point on WikiLeaks

  1. Michael R James

    BK wrote:
    [The digitisation of information implicitly devalues it, makes it vastly, world-changingly easier to share.]

    It may be a bit bizoid but the more accurate term to use instead of “devalue” might be “de-monetize”. That is, it makes it difficult for corporates to get people to pay for it.

  2. shepherdmarilyn

    Dillard once again proved she is not fit for anything much. “Illegal”? How about her locking up of innocent kids outside the law and then trying to shove them off to Timor even when she knows that is actually and demonstrably illegal.

  3. Mark Heydon

    Gillard rails against the “illegal” actions of Assange and her and the A-G offer every assistance to foreign governments in his persecution. Yet all seem to jump to the defence of convicted drug smugglers sitting in Indonesian prisons.

    On the digression:
    There is another interesting parallel between the music industry and the diplomatic situation. The “value” in music is now more and more in live gigs, rather than recorded music. In diplomacy, if secrecy is paramount primacy will need to go to live rather than recorded means as well.

  4. klewso

    Fair crack!
    As some people say, they’re only just human – consider the bind the “Gnus Limited” herd finds itself in, after crusading so long and hard for our “right to know every embarrassing thing Labor does”, after discovering this responsibility in the debris of Howard being washed away? How would they look campaigning for Assange’s right to do the same thing, informing punters what the US government has been doing for years, especially when it involves what the “Rupublicans” were up to their “jatz crackers” in?

  5. Peter Phelps

    I look forward to the day when Wikileaks publishes material from Cuba, Venuzuela, Zimbabwe, North Korea and China.

  6. klewso

    Have they got that “material” – and don’t we expect that sort of thing from them anyway – doesn’t the USA stand for better?

  7. Gavin Moodie

    I agree with BK, ‘cept that his analogy with music’s shift from analogue to digital is not a digression but germane to the WikiLeaks point.

    Some Crikey posters to Rundle’s pieces on WikiLeaks suggested that WikiLeaks may be temporary cos governments will find a way of making it illegal and shutting it down. But that will be as unsuccessful as the music industry’s attempts to shut down music file sharing sites and make promoters of file sharing software liable for any illegal file sharing using their software.

    Furthermore, any attempt to shut down WikiLeaks will be as unsuccessful and ultimately pointless as the Rudd government’s mandatory universal internet filter, about which the government has thankfully gone very quiet.

    WikiLeaks is doing more for access to information than freedom of information legislation. However, it relies on someone with access to information leaking it to WikiLeaks. That is where governments should direct their attention if they want to keep their secrets secret.

  8. klewso

    As for Gillard and McClelland doing their “Julie Bishop and Phil Ruddock” impersonations – in “Ned Kelly Land” – do we still franchise out our foreign policy to the US, to write what to say we think? Who is advising her on this – and does their nurse know they’re “out”?

  9. John Marlowe

    Michael Moore could have a field day!

    Ain’t Gillard an obedient lacky for US ‘strategic’ interests!

    Has anyone noticed how very big ASIO’s cyber department has become and all its job ads!

    <a href="http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/new-counter-terrorism-centre-opens-amid-hundreds-of-aussie-threats/story-e6freuy9-1225941746578&quot;.>new-counter-terrorism-centre-opens-amid-hundreds-of-aussie-threats

  10. crapocular

    I think the artist you are referring to might be David Bowie – see this article from The Independent in 1996 is about his decision to sell his back catalog long before the threat of zero cost internet distribution had materialized.


    More recently, this article from the Guardian this year (cached at google) looks at that decision with the wisdom of hindsight and quotes Bowie from 2002: “Bowie then went on to make one of the most perceptive observations anyone’s ever made about our networked world. Music, he said, “is going to become like running water or electricity”.’


    The fact these 2 articles could be found by 1 slightly motivated person so quickly for this little bit of chatter is in itself testament in itself to the enormity of the paradigm shift.

  11. SusieQ

    Scarily, our politicians seem to be several years behind the rest of us when it comes to all things computer-ish…as someone mentioned, the absurd internet filter springs immediately to mind.

    The government set up a task force a few months back when the last lot of wiki stuff came out but we never heard anymore about it – or maybe, we weren’t allowed to?

    You can guarantee if the Americans are upset about anything, our government (of whichever ilk) will be too, so its hardly any surprise about the carry on in Canberra over this.

    There was a good article in The Age yesterday (which I assume also appeared in the SMH) which discussed whether any Australian laws had been broken and the opinion seemed to be no, they hadn’t. Goodness knows what Gillard and McClelland are going on about then.

    Good article BK.

  12. Jenny Haines

    Julian Assange is releasing information leaked to him, obviously by people concerned at the level of secrecy in government and the poor standard of investigative journalism around the world. Assange’s greatest crime seems to be confirming what we already suspected eg about the level of criminal activity in Russia. His other greatest “crime” is that he does not digest the news for us like the Murdoch Empire does. How dare he tell us what diplomats say about other countries and world leaders!! Us mere mortals don’t appear to be entitled to know what our world leaders are really like. Mind you I worry for Assange – if it was the FSB after him he may be in little plastic boxes by now being posted all over the world. They have form in these things. Assange, whatever his motives has done the world and democracy in this world a very big favour.

  13. Rizzo The Rat

    This raises an interesting question.

    If the Prime Minister of this country believes the leaks of the cable are illegal, does that mean our access to the leaks via the proposed ‘clean feed’ would be cut?

  14. Romeros

    Just visiting and lurking here, I see that both Rundle and Keane absolutely excell in this area. Keep up the magnificent work in lifting the veil, guys.

    (((((WikiLeaks, however, is actively subverting any rules, far more asymmetric and nebulous even than the Islamofascist terrorism threat used so successfully to maintain the national security state in the absence of our Cold War enemies.))))

    Aint it so.

  15. joerasmussen

    If 10 people know something and it’s boring, the next day 7 have forgotten. Two weeks later you’re down to only one person who cares. This is the only scenario where a secret can be kept.

    If 10 people know something, and it’s interesting, within hours 100 people know about it. One of them posts to the net, and suddenly 6,500,000,000 people are in the loop.

    Privacy is for the bedroom, the doctor and the accountant. Privacy for institutions is finished. The smart institutions will work this out and turn it into an opportunity. I’m trying to convince the Greens: Lets do all our business in public, on the net.

  16. Simon

    Great article. After a bit of digging around your source articles, I get what’s going on and yep, its big and its not about the petty detail that is released in these leaks, its about exposing the machine and the bad practices that become embedded because of all the secrecy. A possible analogy is what the combined use of twitter and mobile phones can do to a football player’s career. Awareness of the threat of exposure will mean that either the footy player decides to think twice before screwing a dog in front of his mates for fun, or he makes sure that all his mate’s phones are not in the room. Given the prevalence of technology, he’s never going to ever be certain of the latter, so the safer course of behaviour is the one that is less morally questionable. Any action to suppress the use of phones is as near an admission of guilt as your likely to see.

    I like to think that in 5 or 10 years that footballers are going to improve the way they behave in public because they’ll have no choice – unless they like getting caught doing dodgey things and having their careers (or more importantly their sponsorships) prematurely terminated.

    Maybe the same threat is now being imposed on governments. Imagine that!

  17. joerasmussen

    Yeah, but not just governments. It’s the whole of governance: Firms, unions, sporting clubs…

  18. fredex

    John Pilger was on Brekky Radio National this morning with Fran Kelly.

    He made your point about Oz citizen Assange and the Oz govt [among other comments]:
    “More to the point, she appears to have forgotten that Assange is an Australian citizen, and as such is entitled to a basic level of concern for his treatment from the government of his country — a level of concern that is entirely absent from the remarks of either the Attorney-General or the prime minister.”

    He labeled the Oz govt. comments as ‘shameful”.

  19. crapocular

    Simon – there is one other solution footy players’ conundrum, and that is that he does screw the pooch in from of the cameras , and then when it does go public says “I’m ok with that – I’m only human.”

    This may sound ridiculous but the massive massive shift in sensibility regarding sexuality and particularly porn in the past decade or so has been driven by accessibility and visibility – the unthinkable becomes commonplace at unbelievable speed …. do I need to mention Germans and cannibalism?

  20. zut alors

    “…our media being in permanent thrall to any international attention directed to Australia…”

    Lovely work, Bernard.

    It would be interesting if there’s a cable or two with some subversive or undermining commentary by our US ally directed at Oz. I wonder if Gillard and McClelland would be quite so gung-ho about silencing Assange in that instance.

  21. Gavin Moodie

    I agree with crapocular: hopefully it will reduce the gap between what people say they do and what they actually do.

    Off point, but I now understand the reference in Rake last nite. I thought the scriptwriters were completely over the top, rather than just over the top.

  22. Rena Zurawel

    Can anyone explain to me whether peeping on the government is legal and what is the legal status of a whistleblower?
    What does a ‘transparent government’ mean?
    To what extent can we trust governments that they administer our money to the best interest of our country?
    Are there any rules? And, please don’t tell me we can elect the right people to the government; particularly when we cannot pre-select them.

  23. shepherdmarilyn

    Actually Andrew Wilkie just got parliamentary support for whistleblowers.

  24. peterg

    I’ll be more open minded about this Wikileaks business when some dirt comes out about Isreal connecting it to the truth about 911, and most of the other terrorist events over the last decade (which the Isrealite security firm ICTS as been involved in) . Until then I refuse to be distracted with relative trivia. Wikileaks is designed to have available all the leaked materials, it does not require a pop star to dribble the leaks out in a way that points towards the bad guys of Iran, North Korea, Al Queda (‘the toilet’ in Arabic). If its there, go get it investigative reporters. If it isnt, start up your own distributive network, preferably not one used by Mossad and CIA to spread fud and disinformation. Assange denies that there is anything suspicious about the third building WTC7 which came down, like the Twin towers, into its own footprint, just like a controlled demolition. get this truth out and the nut might crack. Kevin Bracken, for instance, speaks the truth. Assange will fall into his own footprint I reckon.at best he’s just a pawn in the game, at worst a gatekeeper and shill.

  25. Bernard Keane

    Peter Phelps – agree – although the Russia lesson applies – we already know all those countries are corrupt, autocratic kleptocracies.

    Interesting that David Bowie might be the relevant musician – Grog’s Gamut sent me a quote suggesting it might be Neil Young.

  26. Rena Zurawel

    Bernard Keane
    Is China more corrupted than Australia? I mean per capita?

  27. dirt armature

    Rather than being trivial, it’s been argued that the political economy of music is a harbinger of what Bernard K and Grundle, among others, are analyzing: a networked economy and society, which states are losing control of. Former advisor to Mitterand and first President of the London-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Jacques Attali, in his book Noise: the Political Economy of Music, famously argues that

    Music is prophecy. Its styles and economic organization are ahead of the rest of society because it explores, much faster than material reality can, the entire range of possibilities in a given code. It makes audible the new world that will gradually become visible, that will impose itself and regulate the order of things; it is not only the image of things but the transcending of the everyday, the herald of the future. For this reason musicians, even when officially recognised, are dangerous, disturbing and subversive; for this reason it is impossible to separate their history from that of repression and surveillance.

    This quote is from 1977, when iTunes was not on the horizon.

  28. julieb

    Wikileaks has been shutdown. The domain name was cancelled! So much for free speech

  29. zut alors

    I plead ignorance in IT matters but isn’t it possible for the Wikileaks team to start another website under another domain name?

    Could they keep changing the name and releasing blocks of information on each new website before it’s shut down?

  30. Malcolm Street

    Posted Friday, 3 December 2010 at 2:32 pm | Permalink
    I look forward to the day when Wikileaks publishes material from Cuba, Venuzuela, Zimbabwe, North Korea and China.

    I’m sure they’d be happy to do so if someone leaks it to them. Remember Wikileaks is merely publishing information it is given by others.

  31. Malcolm Street

    JulieB and Zut – Wikileaks is back online!!!!

    Note that this is a “raw” IP address, not a DNS address, so there is no DNS record that can be removed this time 🙂

    Link from http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/blog/2010/dec/03/wikileaks-us-embassy-cables-live-updates, who I assume will relay any further attempts at closing the site down and the inevitable new site it will move to.

    “The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.” – John Gilmore, 1993.

    ” Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.”

    – John Perry Barlow, “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace”, 1996

    Incidentally, the UK end of charges against Assange seem as ludicrous and overblown as those in Sweden:


  32. MX53B

    You can recommend Julian Assange for the Order of Australia using this form:

    You can also recommend him for any other honors you believe he qualifies for.


    And that, Malcolm Street, raises the question of just how much better ‘informed’ we would be if we could read what what the generals in Burma or the DPRK actually say in private? Would we be shocked to learn how petty, venal and delusional they are?

    I doubt it.

    Meanwhile, Assange is a legend in his own 15 minutes, while some poor low ranking military sod is in solitary confinement for copying a few CD’s of ‘Lady Gaga’, aka 250 thousand bits of political gossip.

    The word ‘cult’ comes to mind, but I don’t want to shout it out, just in case the whole ‘new paradigm’ brigade get all toey on me.

  34. michael

    As a former employee of an ambulance chaser law firm, you’d think Gillard might be alert to the fact that the wikileaks revelations provide a lot of pointers to illegal activity. Not by Assange, but by bigger players, who have and continue to be “grossly irresponsible”.

  35. JDF

    Mind you, it’s taken Them 15 years not to find Ratko Mladic. Maybe Julian Assange will prove as difficult to find. Hahahahahahahahaha.

  36. MLF

    “… it relies on someone with access to information leaking it to WikiLeaks. That is where governments should direct their attention if they want to keep their secrets secret.”

    Agree, @Gavin Moodie.

    The government line is clearly coming from pressure applied by ‘our good friends’ the US. As such its not an entirely unreasonable public stance (we do have security treaties and alliance responsibilities after all, and I’m sure nation comes before citizen), but the line should be correct, and claiming the activity is illegal has been shown not to be correct.

    On the question of whistleblowers – there is no protection under Australian law for whistleblowers, which is a disgrace, but as mentioned above Andrew Wilkie has been pushing hard and there has been some movement in parliament on this front. The US does have federally mandated whistleblower protection, but I don’t think many of the released cables so far come under that umbrella unless (as also stated above) the whistleblowing is about the process of securing confidential information rather than its content.

    The US also however has treason laws that might come into play under “adhering to enemies”. From what I understand of them, Australian treason laws would not apply.

    Its hard to get the image out of my head of half of Canberra running about like headless chickens “what’s been said?, what will come out next?”. In that way its an unnecessary distraction to running the country, but yes, I would hope that the government is more concerned with pursuing real illegal activity exposed by the cables than worrying about who said what about whom after a state dinner.

    p.s. The Coalition are awfully quiet on this, aren’t they?

  37. Harvey Tarvydas

    Dr Harvey M Tarvydas

    Excellent, spot on BK.

    @JENNY HAINES – Posted Friday, 3 December 2010 at 3:31 pm
    We are all on the same page, don’t stop.
    @PETER PHELPS – Posted Friday, 3 December 2010 at 2:32 pm
    I know something you are pretending not to know, nobody will read it not even you, I won’t.
    Listen to BK.

  38. Angra

    Assange is under unprecedented threats including calls for his assassination from leading public figures who could now face charges of incitement to murder. However the focus on Assange is something of a red herring. Whatever happens to him the whole collection of Wikileaks documents has been spread far and wide and is now probably beyond censorship. As Assange says himself this morning in a Guardian interview –

    “The Cable Gate archive has been spread, along with significant material from the US and other countries to over 100,000 people in encrypted form. If something happens to us, the key parts will be released automatically. Further, the Cable Gate archives is in the hands of multiple news organisations.”


  39. Malcolm Street

    Peter Phelps might be interested, from the Grauniad blog:

    12.43pm: Lebanon’s al-Akhbar newspaper has an Arab world exclusive by getting its hands on a sizeable selection of Wikileaked state department cables from across the region, writes Ian Black, our Middle East editor.

  40. Malcolm Street

    From Assange’s interview on the Gruaniad blog:

    3.09pm: Assange ended his online chat with the defiant answer.

    The Cable Gate archive has been spread, along with significant material from the US and other countries to over 100,000 people in encrypted form. If something happens to us, the key parts will be released automatically. Further, the Cable Gate archives is in the hands of multiple news organisations. History will win. The world will be elevated to a better place. Will we survive? That depends on you.

  41. fred nerk

    Diggers are dying in afghanistan,and its all about oil not fake terrorism.What happened to the people who protested against the Viet Nam war where are they now? in front of the idiot box being told what to think.The red headed clowns first words were in support of amerika and our troops dying in an illegal war, why aren’t you angry???????????? FREE GAZA

  42. fred nerk

    sorry forgot about Julian and wikileaks,you can trust the tame media to shoot the messenger for telling the story and letting poor hard done by amerika of the hook.

  43. AR

    Anyone old enough to wonder what cable traffic passed between the US Embassy in Canberra & Langley in 1975?

  44. John Marlowe

    Given that corporate and government media New York Times, The Guardian, and the BBC have contributed to WikiLeaks material, is Fairfax in its mirrored papers the Sydney Morning Herald trying to distance itself from complicity?

    Is this why Fairfax has its WikiLeaks stories bannered under ‘Espionage’ rather than what it really is ‘Freedom of Information’ and/or ‘Whistleblowing’?

    WikiLeaks has revolutinised truth in foreign diplomacy and international militarism. The fact that the US has thus far been the main country implicated with war crimes, corruption, dishonest diplomacy simply reflects the US being a dominant player. The US has lied about its militarism in Vietnam, Cambodia, Guatemala, Honduras, Iraq and Afghanistan, and in many other ‘proxy’ wars. It writes the history books, but it has frequently been the perpetrator.

    Assange and his whistleblowing champions have revealed that ‘truth, justice and the American way’ has deteriorated into an oxymoronic joke. Assange is America’s Liu Xiaobo.

    I can’t wait for revelations of Australia’s own underhand foreign policy. Perhaps we can learn about more truth behind the weapons of mass deception. Indeed, WikiLeaks provides an ideal forum for whistleblowing the diplomacy truths behind Balibo and East Timor.

  45. botswana bob

    Gillard and “Potato Head” McClelland–the bloke whose vote gave Latham the leadership–should take cold showers. Rather than threatening Assange so they can yet again be a reliable American stooge they should allow us taxpaying plebs to read what the US ambassador really thinks about the likes of Lord Downer of Baghdad.

    In spite of all the bleating from US pollies and their far right media ranters there is nothing in this material that “threatens lives.” Instead its simply a major embarrassment to these arrogant and now petulant bullies.

  46. juvenile

    I am amazed at how under developed local coverage of this story is. For instance, all I could find in todays SMH was some stories cut and pasted from other news organisations, and a piece in news review about Assenge’s alleged rape. Zero analysis or Australian interpretation of the actual data of this significant story.

    Even at this early stage with only a handful of the cables published, its not difficult to generate a story. Some simple stats of the cables include –

    933 from Canberra, starting from 2005, with 43 designated noforn
    1490 from Wellington, starting from 1997, with 12 noforn
    3059 from Jakarta starting in 1990, with 12 noforn.
    393 from Suva
    66 from Port Moresby
    390 from Dili
    167 from Surabaya
    75 from Melbourne
    14 from Auckland
    12 from Sydney
    11 from Perth

    Going further into the data, 95 cables from Canberra are tagged KNNP (North Korea), 97 are tagged MARR (Military Arrangements). 594 have a subject line of Australia, 37 have a subject line of howard, 58 have a subject line of rudd.

    It seems like such a missed opportunity for a someone like fairfax or the ABC to use some cloud or collaborative technologies, instead they are pursuing nonsense and making Assange the story. Hopefully we get some decent analysis from our media as more of the content gets released.

  47. shepherdmarilyn

    The Australian media look like a cheer squad for the arrest of Assange, it’s truly disgraceful.

    Jealousy one imagines.

    He didn’t go around and sneak papers, he was given them by others.

  48. Singer

    @Dirk Armature

    ****Music is prophecy. Its styles and economic organization are ahead of the rest of society because it explores, much faster than material reality can, the entire range of possibilities in a given code.****

    It appears in some cultures that music was indeed a very powerful force. Even powerful enough to heal sickness and inspire people to great hights, no wonder then, that there are those who would seek to control and monopolise the music industry….tis evil Governance for sure.

    “But now bring me a musician.” Then it happened, when the musician played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him.” 2 Kings 3:15

    “Let us find a good musician to play the harp whenever the tormenting spirit troubles you. He will play soothing music, and you will soon be well again. ” 1 Samuel 16:16

  49. Romeros


    Must admit that we were not totally convinced to begin with either, but there is just too much evidence coupled with the nature and circumstances of the back-room political involvement to suggest anything to the contrary.

    ****Assange denies that there is anything suspicious about the third building WTC7 which came down, like the Twin towers, into its own footprint, just like a controlled demolition. get this truth out and the nut might crack. Kevin Bracken, for instance, speaks the truth. Assange will fall into his own footprint I reckon.at best he’s just a pawn in the game, at worst a gatekeeper and shill.****

    Assange may have gone along with the “accepted view” with the 9/11 Twin Towers etc, to separate himself and Wikileaks from the perception that anyone in this corner is part of the lunatic fringe, if you can see where I am coming from here….and in doing so give wikileaks more leverage and penetration. But this would only be a fascade so to speak.

  50. guytaur

    Great article BK. On the legal side it is going to be interesting to see what charges are brought.
    This article in the Washington Post details the problems for the US if they try to do so.

    Given those facts the damage to Australia are even less and any legal action is even less credible.

  51. taxydriver

    “This brings into question what does it mean to be an Australian citizen – does that mean anything at all? Or are we all to be treated like David Hicks at the first possible opportunity merely so that Australian politicians and diplomats can be invited to the best US embassy cocktail parties.”

  52. John Marlowe


    Ask Lord Downer.

    Of David Hicks, Downer in Dec 2007 said “All the excuses in the world about an innocent abroad and so on, none of that ever washed with me.”


    Message: If Australian and overseas, dare to be anti-Laboral and cop ostracism bad!

  53. Frank Campbell

    I don’t usually hang on Banal Julia’s every turd, but her attack on Assange (“I absolutely condemn…”) tells us she’s in the classic Australian position- under Uncle Sam. It’s a very special relationship.

    Now she’s sooled her flabby grottweiler, McClelland, onto the infoterrorist.

    Just try jailing Julian, Julia. You’re in for a big surprise.

  54. MLF

    In case of interest: BBC News – At a glance: Wikileaks http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-11914040

  55. peterg


    I can understand that, in a way we are all embedded and not inclined to be crucified for speaking out about the unthinkable . but 911 is my litmus test (and the alledged basis for all these ‘wars’) . there are also different ways to not talk about something, but still infer the truth, or at least doubts about the official story (which is the real conspiracy and incredible), rather than resort to the “oh, those ridiculous conspiracy theories”, as Assange, Tariq Ali, Noam Chomsky et al have this decade. if they have done the minimal research required on 911 and are still putting down the truthseekers, then what’s their game given what is at stake? can you sell your soul just a little bit to get credibility and maybe make up for it later? sounds like how the system works like it does. the results are showing.

  56. Romeros


    ((((can you sell your soul just a little bit to get credibility and maybe make up for it later? )))

    I understand that too, but I don’ think it is selling your soul when the outcome is greater infiltration and wider exposure. I am suspicious of Chomsky, he loves to grand-stand the symptons while screening out the cause and the culprits. Through people like him and his ilk, they control both sides.

    “oh, those ridiculous conspiracy theories”, …do have Assange on record saying that?

  57. Elisabeth

    Julian Assange is an Australian citizen. As an Australian citizen he is entitled to consular support when in need.

    He can’t come back to his own land of birth, because he doesn’t trust us/govt-of-the-day/and alliances we may have.

    Quite frankly, I don’t blame him, though I am shamed we are rejecting a citizen in need. I wonder, will you be the next one rejected? Will I?

    It seems Swedish laws are a little odd: Consensual sex without a condom can be liable to a two year jail sentence.

    So, how do they make cute little Swedish babies? CabbagePatch Kids?

  58. Elisabeth

    I have been following WikiLeaks through various sites and I understand it is now on Bitorrent, though I haven’t tried to use Torrents yet.

    I didn’t rely on information from the news stations and newspapers here. I ‘ferreted’ around the Internet.

    I suggest you do this also.

    First stop, ‘The Guardian.co.uk’ They’ve been fearless about the assault on WikiLeaks.

    Take the Bus:

    FaceBook WikiLeaks has over half a million ‘likes’ and they’re all outraged at the treatment of Julian Assange and his team.

  59. Gavin Moodie

    As I understand the allegation against Assange, as reformulated, is that the woman agreed to sex with a condom but when there was no condom she did not agree to sex.

    If this is correct this would also be grounds for rape in Australia. Indeed, if sex started off consensual but one of the participants told the other that they had changed their mind it would no longer be consensual and continuing sex would be rape in Australian law.

    So allegations of rape, as with many other legal disputes, depend very much on the findings of fact. Peoples’ recollections are inaccurate and there can be genuine disagreement without any impropriety or bad faith. It is therefore very hard to assess the merits of a case without hearing all the evidence.

  60. peterg

    @ Romeros

    “I’m constantly annoyed that people are distracted by false conspiracies such as 9/11, when all around we provide evidence of real conspiracies, for war or mass financial fraud.”

    I mean, go to
    these guys are not nutjobs, there nuthing more real than gravity and basic physics huh?

    also, Wikileaks has a presence on TOR, which is ultimately more resillient and anonymous than Torrents or mirrors. It wont be the whole shebang, but the infrastructure is there for that purpose.
    instructions and a link to Wikileaks hidden service here

  61. Harry

    Assange is just a journalist putting on public domain stories that our controlled “free press” won’t print. because it embarases our politically correct politicians
    A reason I do not subscribe to any paper

  62. whoknows

    I am disgusted at Gillard & Co. Assange is an Australian citizen and should have it’s support. Irrespective of his actions, he has been convicted before any legal debate. WikiLeaks is not just about the US but wow shake the hornets nest and don’t they attack.

    And doesn’t the fear of being exposed get the war mongering corporate machine into gear against the very thing it says it is defending: FREEDOM. What a joke. The lies at the expense of community needs to be fully exposed. Stand up, get up, don’t give up the fight!

  63. zut alors

    The lap-dog gene has, through the marvels of modern politics, somehow been passed from John Howard to Rudd and now Gillard. Whatever the USA wants, the USA gets – including the possibility that an Australian citizen may have their passport cancelled. This is outrageous…and it could happen to any one of us as we innocently travel around the globe. Don’t think ‘not ME, I’m squeaky clean and law-abiding’ – all it requires is an accusation (baseless or otherwise), the USA getting a bee in its bonnet and the Oz Prime Minister and Attorney General may renounce you.

    Despite his innumerable faults, Mark Latham had a far more balanced attitude towards the USA. Remember, it was Latham who fought for (and won) concessions on the Fair Trade Agreement. Why do Oz prime ministers roll over and unremittingly acquiesce to the USA?

    I eagerly await the Wikileaks documents revealing the USA’s truthful opinions of us. Stay tuned, folks…

  64. jlo

    How interesting the terminology of ‘illegal’ and as usual is interpreted to suit the individual rather than the true meaning or should it be the ethical slant. Illegal seems to be used and applied to ‘anyone stirs the pot’ (of course aside from those who commit obvious crimes).

    I find it amazing the number of comments already and hear hear – I cant agree more than Mr Phelps. What is all the fuss, the fact that Mr Assange has revealed what some have always believed and others feared. The truth is what’s important here and maybe only then will we have change. Governments expect employees to comply with Codes of Conduct, but it appears that they themselves are above all this. I thought these numerous documents produced to justify someone’s position communicating how we should act applied to all in Government. Ethics, integrity, honesty, respect are not just values that we get given when we are employed, they apply outside the working life believe it or not. Again hear hear Mr Assange for revealing the truth of what goes on behind closed doors or our of camera. Maybe this will be a launching pad to working together across the globe – I CAN ONLY HOPE.

  65. Elan

    “I cant agree more than Mr Phelps”

    ……you can’t? Are you sure? Our sweety Petey?

    So? You gotta wonder…………….?

    Is anyone else having trouble accessing The Rawstory? (homepage Crikey: Ron Paul comment).

    Nothing will surprise me.

    I am ‘netting with no probs. But trying to access this?

    ( Oh Lordy!! not another conspiracy theorist..)

  66. shepherdmarilyn

    Oh the blithering hypocrisy of Clinton.

    “The documents reveal a close relationship between Google and the US authorities in China. In January, a few days after Google made the hacking public – without specifying who it believed was responsible – Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, made a speech in Washington entitled “remarks on internet freedom”.

    Clinton weighed in heavily on the side of Google, warning that “countries that restrict free access to information or violate the basic rights of internet users risk walling themselves off from the progress of the next century”.

    She called on the Chinese government to “conduct a thorough review of the cyber intrusions” without revealing that it was her own officials who believed the attack was co-ordinated from inside the Chinese politburo.

  67. Angra

    The US are trying to knock off the Wikileaks domains and alternative direct ip addresses. The ones listed earlier in this thread are not now working.

    However this site automatically lists the new mirrors and alternative addresses as they keep popping up –


    Its a bit like a game of ‘whack a mole’. There are now hundreds of alternative sites available which host the Wikileaks docs.

  68. peterg

    works ok for me, from OZ and US addresses. dont click on the picture of that lovely man, just the hyperlinked text


  69. Elan

    Thanks for checking PG. I used your link, and it still froze. I’m going to avoid it for a while. (On Friday a notoriously slow site drove me so damn mad that I slammed the mouse so hard on the desk,-its innards came out!!)

    Tip of the day: always keep a spare mouse. Or two.

    I like the quote Crikey has used from Ron Paul’s speech. That’ll do me. In my view this is not a Right or Left issue. This is an issue of suppression. Suppression of knowledge to the people. And suppression of those who attempt to bring knowledge to them.

    I tried to put up the following post on a Murdoch toilet-paper. They did not show it.

    (Written when Wikileaks lost their domain).

    “Wikileaks was involved in a global war. The war between those who control, and those who serve them. ANYTHING that gives any insight to those who fight the wars/pay the dues/ who simply do the bidding of those who are in global control, HAD to be shut down. The global controllers cannot have those who do their bidding/buy their goods/ pay their fees/spill blood for them………..those people MUST NEVER be given any knowledge of how badly they are used up and exploited. That Wikileaks had a role to place in this Global System is an indictment of so-called journalistic integrity all over the globe, where ‘journalists’ do not report facts;-they give their spin on it-or echo the views of their masters. Wikileaks must survive. They are so very sorely needed. “

  70. John Marlowe

    I think rebranding WikiLeaks as WikiTruth and for Julian to delegate incoming whistleblowing megabytes to outsourced multi-national server franchises will piss of the CIA big time because their character assassination 101 script won’t cope with such disconnect and dissemination of truth.

    Separating the message from the messenger is what it is all about anyway.

    What this issue has exposed mostly to the Australian people is the Real Gillard and sadly it smells American.

  71. Angra

    The French have just pulled the plug on Wikileaks servers in France.


    But the site is still up on multiple alternative hosts, eg

  72. mickq

    Hey, I know what the government can do. Just add Wikileaks to Conroy’s blacklist filter when it comes out.

    What could be simpler. Problem fixed.

    But then we’d read about it in the overseas press on the net.

    Well, then we could add them to the filter……….

    Wiki who?

  73. AndyWare

    @PETER PHELPS: Far right scum who still employs the “Domino Theory” to justify the West killing and lying it’s way around the world. Joy.

  74. Sandi

    The most Wiki Leaks says we already knew. It is just a confirmation.
    What has Julian “accidentally” done he united world leaders in their grubby politics and their paranoid actions against a free speech. And hopefully also united millions of ordinary people all around the globe.
    I am very disappointed but not surprised of Australian government for its response on this matter. And of course both major parties are on the same side on this one.

  75. jj22

    alternative view from Sweden re alleged “rape”

    Although I am not in the slightest bit interested in Julian Assange’s sex life since the whole Swedish international arrest warrant and his future security is being affected by it, it’s worth posting these reports from Sweden so that despite all the incredible “slander and libel” going on around him, people can get a fuller and fairer picture.



  76. Angra

    One of the Clinton cables just released asks for further information about overseas assets which are of critical importance to the US. There is a considerable list of such items in Asia/South Pacific region inclduing the following in Australia –

    “In addition to a list of critical domestic CI/KR, the NIPP requires compilation and annual update of a comprehensive inventory of CI/KR that are located outside U.S. borders and whose loss could critically impact the public health, economic security, and/or national and homeland security of the United States.

    EAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC Australia: Southern Cross undersea cable landing, Brookvale, Australia Southern Cross undersea cable landing, Sydney, Australia Manganese – Battery grade, natural; battery grade, synthetic; chemical grade; ferro; metallurgical grade Nickel Mines Maybe Faulding Mulgrave Victoria, Australia: Manufacturing facility for Midazolam injection. Mayne Pharma (fill/finish), Melbourne, Australia: Sole suppliers of Crotalid Polyvalent Antivenin (CroFab). ”

  77. whoknows

    Hilary Clinton agrees with the principle of WikiLeaks: http://tinyurl.com/ydrnzxc
    Well, until it actually happens.

  78. Rocket Rocket

    [I’m trying to convince the Greens: Lets do all our business in public, on the net.]
    Good luck with that! This is after all the party that kept secret Sarah-Hanson Young’s 1-5 loss in a deputy leader challenge, and the party that instantly disendorsed Cheryl Wragg (“She who cannot be named”) for a disagreement on timing of a policy, without any “democratic” input from their much valued members.

  79. peterg

    this might be usefule to check sometimes

    and previous poster is right, this is the sort of thing that Labor and Conroy want for their internet censorship plans. Its not save the children, its save the rigged system for the childish pollies.

  80. SBH

    ANd this morning Julie Bishop slagging off Rudd and Gillard while the entire western diplomatic and political world is trying to keep a lid on things showing that her and the Libs have no understanding of the national interest and only operate on the basis of self interest

  81. Elan

    Thanks PG. Just checked. They are showing as down.

    I have to say that ‘peoplepower’ may give the Wikileaks team some measure of protection, though if Assange is arrested I would be very concerned that he does not suffer Bader-Meinhof Syndrome.

    It is up to those who support the focus of Wikileaks to watch as closely as is possible how things develop;-and to keep watching.

    Assange believed that his Government would protect him? I didn’t think that he could do what he is doing, yet be so naive.

    The Australian Government is the ‘how high’ ? And Obama’s (sad disappointment that),-lot are the ‘Simon says’.

    In essence Wikileaks is trying to empower the ‘common proleteriat’. We need to return the compliment.

  82. junglejim

    @AR “Anyone old enough to wonder what cable traffic passed between the US Embassy in Canberra & Langley in 1975?”

    I’ve been waiting with bated breath but as of this time and date only one cable from 1975 has been released, and that’s about “Iranian resurgence party created by Shah”.

  83. Jenny Haines

    Jungle Jim – have you read or seen the movie the “Falcoln and the Snowman”. Good stuff there about cables between Oz and the US in 1975.

  84. peterg


    Orwell’s 1984 had “Goldstein” empowering the proles. that’s my view of it for now… false opposition and disinformation. call me a cynic, but the more I find out, the more this is confirmed. doesnt mean it cant backfire (the remaining Americans who still didnt believe that their government would do Nazi like torture in Abu Graib were influenced in that respect by the latest Iraq focused (wiki)leaks rather than caring about those bad Iranians and despicable Iraqi freedom fighters).
    Ohh those bad Iranians, and that awsome everpresent mercurial Al Qaeda…oooh those bad bankers next edition) , we must have a world currency now. (administered by the same people who caused the problems and get off scott free all the time). even if wikileaks did blow the lid on 911, I bet it would all be about Bush and Cheney as scapegoats , nothing about Mossad and the dancing Israelis etc. problem, reaction, solution.

  85. peterg

    thought Id be rude and pop this in there, seeing as my views are not reflected in these comments.

    “Wikileaks is like mother’s milk to people who have starved for openness and justice.
    Wikileaks is mother’s milk laced with arsenic.”

  86. klewso

    SBH – re Bishop and the Coalition :- what’s a “national interest” when one can appeal to emotion and prejudice and “wedge”?
    Besides, who wrote those lines of “Julie Scissorhands'”, before she happened upon them?

  87. Joze

    Point taken PeterG, I can see you seek the wisdom of a serpent, but this could be the once in a life time opportunity to use these issues for truth and freedom of speech.

    If Assange turns out to be a square peg in a round hole then let it flush out later, but in the mean time, make hay while the sun shines and wait for the big backfire…use it.

    What about Glenn beck? He has been outed by some of his closest associates in the US as nothing but a “Plant”… a patsy and a shill for the Neocons and anyone else who holds dual citizenship.

    I know Prolesinski the Polish guy too. Same track.

  88. peterg

    @Joze, I know Im too fine about it, but justifiably. Quoting Neitsche in Faust, “that which would do evil, but does good’. it must be hard to be brought up thinking you can control everything, then have things not go quite right, and not know why. like Hitler thought in the end “why have the people betrayed me”. why do they hate us and our freedoms, Bush 2 would say?
    we can add Alex Jones to that list.
    the opportunity will be once in a lifetime if they use it to try to control the internet (fortunately so far cannot be done, eg Chinese dissidents).
    another take is what the Sun microsystems founder glibly said a while back, its the end of privacy, get used to it. or David Suzukis comment in the light of the Rodney King videos, and the profusion of mobile cameras, that its the little brother phenomenon to counteract the big brother. cuts both ways.
    enough optimism for now, I believe the light at the end of the tunnel or on the hill when I see it. (apart from the candles burning in vigil within)

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